Ludlow Assembly Rooms has been completely transformed under the multi-million project from Shropshire Council and Pave Aways Building Contractors.
A technical handover back to the Ludlow Assembly Rooms trustees is imminent, and the project will finally come to a close after two years work under strict Covid-19 restrictions.
Shawn Humphreys, Pave Aways construction quality manager for the project, has praised his team for working hard restoring the historic building into a modern entertainment venue, despite the disruptions of Covid-19.
Most parts of the building were taken out and completely re-done to bring them up to date with modern features installed, while also saving historic parts like the auditorium lath and plaster ceiling.
“I think everyone will be pleased that it’s nearly completed. The nature of old buildings like the Assembly Rooms is that you often uncover additional work as a project progresses and that’s what’s happened here," said Shawn.
“It is an old building, nothing is square and level so trying to get everything to fit into an old building has been a challenge.”
“That combined with the issues of having to operate during Covid-19 has meant we’ve had to have fewer people on site to make sure they can work safely at a social distance
“It meant we could only operate at 30 per cent capacity than we would normally on a project like this."
Shawn and his team are putting the finishing touches to the work on the arts building, which included re-instating the original Castle Square entrance, a redesigned auditorium, a new box office, visitor information centre and café bar, as well as modernisation of the mechanical and technical equipment, along with the installation of PV panels to generate electricity back to the grid.
Shropshire Council has invested £2 million into the scheme, with hundreds of thousands of pounds also raised by Ludlow Assembly Rooms. Grant funding has also come from the European Regional Development Fund and Arts Council England.
Helen Hughes, CEO of Ludlow Assembly Rooms said: “It’s going to be the most exciting venue for cinema, theatre and live events in Shropshire and north Herefordshire.
“From the outside you can see the historic old building, but it actually hides a modern and new theatre.
"There is tiered seating, so no more craning necks, a new lift system, air conditioning and insulated heating. All the things you don’t see have been updated and improved.”
“Really it’s a great modernised multi-use building for community activities for all ages and for everyone.
"We have been shut for two and a half years but we have had great support on this from Shropshire Council, the Arts Council, the EU, and Paveaways have been amazing.
“We are going to have to open slowly and in line with Government guidance, but we are really excited.”
Shawn added: “As a company we do lots of new buildings, so working on a project like this has been a challenge but it’s also been really interesting.
“I would like to think we have saved and restored one of the landmark buildings in a very prominent position in Shropshire.”